DENVER -- It’s hard to realize greatness in the moment, let alone historical greatness. But if you’re following Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw, soon you might be able to say you witnessed one of the most impressive streaks the game of baseball has ever seen.
“This is just Clayton being Clayton,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said, perhaps not sure if he was trying to convince the reporters around him or himself.
But if you are watching this, how could you believe that? This streak is too good for a make-your-bed, brush-your-teeth routine.
This is amazing, a baseball delicacy at its finest.
What Mattingly should have said, but didn’t, is to enjoy this. Don’t spoil it.
In Kershaw’s latest outing, the 26-year-old hurler was nearly untouchable at a usual hitter’s refuge, Coors Field, as he extended his career-best streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 36 in the Dodgers’ 9-0 win Friday against the Colorado Rockies.
It was so good, even some of the Rockies players had to sit back and admire what they’ve seen from Kershaw, who went eight innings and struck out eight while allowing just two hits and walking one on -- just more than two weeks removed from his no-hitter against them June 18 at Dodgers Stadium.
Take Colorado outfielder Drew Stubbs. He resembled one of the bright-eyed children watching postgame fireworks just outside the teams’ locker rooms when talking about Kershaw. He even called the lefty’s slider the best pitch in the game.
Colorado pitcher Jair Jurrjens seemed caught up in the moment, as well. The Rockies’ newly acquired pitcher seemed so focused on watching Kershaw pitch in the third inning, he must have forgotten he was on first base and was promptly thrown out because of it.
Kershaw, meanwhile, was a little more nonchalant about it all.
“It’s great,” Kershaw said casually. “You never want to give up a run, so I guess that’s the goal.”
If he can accomplish that goal for another 24 innings, he’ll break MLB’s 59 consecutive scoreless innings mark set by Dodgers great and current color commentator Orel Hershiser, who during the Dodgers’ broadcast on Friday called Kershaw the best pitcher he’s ever seen.
Is that true, though? Could Kershaw be the best left-handed pitcher the game has ever seen? Or is this just a phenomenal streak, one we can all enjoy and admire?
With the best view of it all, A.J. Ellis -- L.A.’s veteran catcher -- talked about the streak that has fans and batters alike baffled.
“I think the biggest thing for me has been the consistency of the breaking balls,” Ellis said. “You know usually he’ll have his A slider but his C or D curveball, or visa-versa, where his slider isn’t working but his curveball is. But during this run, I mean, he’s had an A curveball and an A slider this entire time.
“And they are both electric strikeout pitches, which is why I think you’re seeing him have pretty good strike out totals that have been unmatched in his career. When he gets two strikes, he can do either way he wants to go.”
And because of Kershaw’s two dominant strikeout pitches, hitters are swinging early, which is keeping his pitch count low and allowing him to go deep into games.
After the eighth inning on Friday, Kershaw felt like he had even more in the tank, but he was denied by Mattingly to finish the game.
And after throwing 96 pitches Friday and surrendering no runs in 36 consecutive innings, Kershaw found, perhaps, the one thing he wasn’t good at on the field as of late -- lobbying.
“I guess my arguing skills aren’t any good,” he said with a smile.
Kershaw’s next chance to extend his scoreless streak is Thursday, when he faces the San Diego Padres as the Dodgers return home after a six-game road trip.